PQ 12.8 — Can I think of a way to make a new partner feel safe in a relationship with me under these conditions?

a person with dark hair and a dark beard wearing a dark jacket, dark shirt, and jeans, standing next to a sign that says "Do not learn safety by accident." There appears to be snow on the ground and a fence in the background with other signs, like this is the entrance to an industrial area.
Image by Endlisnis / CC BY

PQ 12.8 — Can I think of a way to make a new partner feel safe in a relationship with me under these conditions?

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While the Chapter 12 questions have all been about veto, I really like this question in a broader sense, as a kind of self-check:

Is the way I’m treating my partner making them feel safe in the relationship?

And I’m not talking about just refraining from behaviors that will make a partner feel unsafe in a clearcut sense. Abuse. Violence. Threats. (Although clearly, those are unacceptable.) I’m also talking about actively doing things that will make them feel safe in more subtle ways.

Is how I’m treating my partner going to make them likely to feel comfortable opening up to me? Will it make them more likely to trust me?

Am I consistently there for them? Am I reliable? Do I keep my word (or at least have good reasons that I communicate clearly when I have to deviate from our plans)? Or am I canceling frequently last minute? Do I demonstrate that spending time with them is a relatively low priority in my life?

Have I demonstrated that I will tell them the truth — and not just when it’s easy for me to do so?

Do I take a genuine interest in things that are important to them? Even if they’re not necessarily my own favorites?

Do I show concern about their feelings even when their desires conflict with my own?

If the answers to any of these questions is no, it doesn’t necessarily mean that a relationship is hands down undoable. You might lack some of these factors but still find you can work something out. It really depends on what’s important to each of you and how entangled the relationship is.

But it’s not a bad thing to stop and take stock of relationship safety, and if there are small ways that you can make your partner feel a little bit safer, to go ahead and do them.

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This post is part of a series in which I answer each of the chapter-end questions in More than Two with an essay. For the entire list of questions and answers, please see this indexed list.

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